Why Every Student Should Be Building A Personal Brand

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CVs and resumes are dead. Today’s university students need to focus on building their personal brand.

This weekend, my son moved into a university halls of residence, and is about to start a three year course.

It’s an emotional time as a parent, and triggered a lot of emotions, as well as memories of how I was feeling back in 1993, when I was in his shoes…

The world is VERY different today when compared to 1993.

In 1993 we used to payphone and letters to keep in touch with friends and family back home. Nobody I knew at university had a video camera and photos took were shot on film and then taking to a lab for processing. The result of this? Very little documented evidence of the things we got up to.

Fast forward to today and pretty much everyone has a smart phone that can instantly capture, photos, video and audio and can immediately publish this content to the online world. This is both an exciting opportunity and a risk.

Climbing the career ladder

I remember being in a job interview in 2001. After 4 four years with the organisation I joined shortly after graduation, I’d decided it was time to move and the interviewer for my new role started asking about my time at university.

I surprised him by talking about the social life as a student as well as the details of my academic career. He found my honesty refreshing and I got offered the job.

Thing is, with the way social media now documents our lives, in this happened now he would probably already know so much more about me.

In 2017 and beyond, employers will pay more attention to what they find in the public domain than anything you write on your CV.

Building and protecting your personal brand as a student

Every student should have two priorities around social media: one is about keeping yourself protected, and the other one is about building a digital resume or personal brand.

Having a degree certificate is no longer enough to make you stand out to potential employers (or investors if you plan to start your own thing).

You need to establish a personal brand that supports your qualifications and shows potential employers or potential business associates exactly what you are all about.

This means creating, documenting and sharing content that reflects your values, assets and skills. It also means guarding the things you want kept private and keeping them away from the online world.

For every video, photos or social media post that is shared online you need to be asking:

“Does this fit with the personal brand you want people to see when I leave university?”

Like every brand, you need to understand and master the message that you share. Keep it authentic, but also keep it appropriate for the audience (employers, employees, clients) that you ultimately want to attract.